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Musical pairing – So Small by Carrie Underwood
My oldest son and his family moved to Indiana last month; the last year without Alice has been difficult and everyone felt they needed a new start – new job, new home, new beginning, moving forward. So they packed up their house in New Hampshire, along with Alice’s brother, Doug, 3 Labrador dogs and hit the road heading West to Indiana.
None of us have navigated these waters before – of moving forward without the physical presence of someone lost so young – someone who made you laugh, someone who could be vexing on her worst days and someone who also had everyone wrapped around her little finger. But we are all moving forward . . . together.
Sunday suppers are becoming a tradition around our table – pot roast, meat balls, sauce and breadsticks, pizza and smoked brisket. The music is cranked, glasses of gluten-free beer and/or wine are poured and everyone is given a task: chopping mise en place, pulling together a dessert, setting the table, lighting candles or creating a salad – our little family in a small space, orchestrating movements as if we are pair-skaters, gliding on ice, moving about in circles from one task to the next.
Cell phones are silenced and left in another room; salad, main course and some sort of bread is passed from one person to the next, each filling his or her plate . . . and we eat . . . and we talk . . . and we eat a bit more . . . and we talk. Sometimes it’s about what happened in our week, sometimes it’s about something the dogs did or it might be about some event that is coming up – a trip, a holiday, a birthday celebration – but the conversation eventually leads to Alice and the memories we have of her.
It makes me smile, it makes me laugh, it makes me remember – and it keeps the essence of Alice alive – death, or the absence of her physical body will never take that from us . . . as long as we continue to talk about her, write about her and simply share her life.
I’m grateful for these Sundays – life is incredibly busy these days and we are juggling a lot; having Sunday suppers forces us to slow down, to think about a menu, to plan what each family member can do to participate in the meal and most importantly, to be able to sit at a table and share life, talk, connect.
We’ve already experienced our first freeze and as I gaze out my windows, I see miles of deep burgundy, bright yellow and shocking orange as the leaves give up their last hold on summer. I look forward to the changing of each season and I always seems to find myself saying, ‘This is my favorite time of year!’ And in that moment it is.
October 27th is the first anniversary of Alice’s passing; I know my family would appreciate any good thoughts and prayers you can send our way. We all miss her terribly – I think we always will. And that’s okay.
This may look like it’s a lot of work and steps, but it really isn’t; you start with a rotisserie chicken purchased from the deli counter and the filling is done in about 20 minutes. Making biscuits in a food processor means the biscuits are ready to go in less than 15 minutes! And if you don’t have a food processor, you can still make the biscuits using a box grater – either way, this is one of my family’s most requested recipes and on our table at least once a month!
FOR THE POT PIE
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 large leeks, light green and white parts only, washed thoroughly to remove grit
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (1-1/2 – 2 cups)
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery hearts, leaves included
- 1 large fully-cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (5-6 cups)
- 79 grams gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
- 3 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
- ¼ cup sherry
- salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
FOR THE BISCUITS:
- 280 grams gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen solid
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
- melted butter for brushing tops
FOR THE POT-PIE
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and place rack to middle position
- Shred rotisserie chicken into large bowl and set aside
- Microwave chicken broth and evaporated milk in a microwave safe container 3-4 minutes until hot
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large (12-inch) deep skillet over medium-high heat; add leeks, apples, celery and a pinch of salt/pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender – 5-7 minutes
- Transfer leeks, apples and celery to bowl with chicken and set aside
- Heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat in empty skillet (no need to wipe out)
- When foaming subsides, whisk in gluten-free flour and sage and cook until golden – about 1 minute; add pinch of salt/pepper
- Whisk in hot-milk mixture and simmer, stirring continuously until sauce fully thickens – about 1 minute
- Remove from heat, stir in sherry; stir sauce, along with parsley, into chicken mixture; taste and adjust seasonings
- Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish; set aside
FOR THE BISCUITS:
- With the large shredding disc of a food processor, coarsely grate frozen butter; remove butter to a medium bowl and set aside in freezer
- Place gluten-free all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times to whisk together
- Add cheddar cheese and frozen grated butter, give it a few more pulses to coat butter and cheese
- Add buttermilk and pulse mixture just begins to come together
- Remove dough to a slightly floured board and press mixture together
- Pinch dough with fingers into small rough rounds and place on top of chicken filling
- Brush biscuit tops with melted butter and bake until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly – 30-35 minutes
- Serve immediately